Can't find competitive matches in Asia-Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand) region since "Archives" March 2020 patch

Summary Can't find competitive matches in Asia-Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand) region since "Archives" March 2020 patch
System Information: Switch, system version 9.2.0
Game Version: 1.46.0.0 - 66607

Issue:
  • I play from Australia. Prior to the Ashe "Madi Gras" February 2020 patch, I could wait in the competitive queue for 30 minutes or more, at different times of day and night, queuing for all roles, and couldn't find a game.
  • After the Ashe "Madi Gras" February 2020 patch, there were an influx of players with Asian characters in their names and myself and other people I knew could find competitive matches frequently, even outside of peak times. Wait times for games also went down in quickplay.
  • As of the March 12, 2020 "Archives" patch, queue times in quick play are longer (sometimes even during peak times, games time out once they've started due to "waiting for players"), and it's near impossible to find a competitive game even if I choose all roles, and the queue time estimates are completely inaccurate. Whether I am in a team or whether I queue solo doesn't seem to matter.
  • I'm not the only one who notices--3 other players from Australia and New Zealand have also reported it, one who says the recent revert back to not finding players may be the reason he stops playing Overwatch on Switch. Other people I play with also told me they notice a difference since the patch. If things remain like this, I'll only play Overwatch when I can team up with a competent group, since quickplay is full of non-serious players, and game leavers who can leave games with no consequence (usually 1 person leaves per game; sometimes more than 1; sometimes games shut down mid-game due to too many people leaving, and in quickplay, they have no meaningful consequences to deter them). Other reports from players:
    • Switch players are are resorting to using a VPN, and grouping up with American players on Discord so they can get matched with other Americans (see headings 2- Servers - or "Why can't I find games?" and 3- VPN at source 1; source 2, posted 22 Feb 2020)
    • A PS4 player in the "OCE" servers (presumably he means oceanic) reported July 2019 that after being able to find competitive matches in about 5 minutes during season 16, in season 17, they had trouble finding matches, even when using an alt account. Another player in the same region reported it takes them over an hour to find an "unfair game with a mix of plats diamonds and even golds." Another PS4 player in the same thread said they had trouble getting players close to their SR. (source)
    • In a thread posted July 2019, six players reported issues finding competitive games.
  • Because people can't find competitive games within a reasonable time, they go back to quickplay (or exit the game), so even if there were people who would queue for competitive play, they'll never find each other because they're in quickplay, and so an ongoing loop of not being able to find competitive games occurs. The players are there and willing, but they're missing each other.
  • There was a language barrier when English speaking players were in games with Asian players who spoke other languages, but it was preferable to not having any games, and in-game text (group up, acknowledged, etc) worked okay.
  • This also affects the Arcade mode and special event missions. I loved playing Arcade when the game launched, but these days it's a ghost town, and the only way to play special event modes is to use the find a group feature. If the mode needs two teams, your chance of getting into a game is very flow. I didn't get to play any of the Christmas event Arcade modes, despite wanting to and queuing up for them.

Expected Results:

  • Be able to find competitive games with a variety of opponents within a reasonable time, at times you can expect to find opponents. We know it's possible--it's happened before.
  • Accurate queue wait time estimates.
  • A way to know how close I am to forming a full team and team of opponents to play against in competitive and quickplay.
  • This change to happen before the next major patch.

Actual Results:

  • Can't play competitive, so instead play in quickplay with people nowhere near my skill level, and non-serious people with poor sportsmanship who leave games.
  • Queue estimates are terribly inaccurate when not many people are playing. E.g. It'll show "less than 2 minutes" for the Tank role, and I'll be in queue for 30+ minutes.
  • No way to know if you're 1 of 12 people in queue, or 11 of 12 people in queue.

Suggestions

  • Re-do whatever you did as of the Feb 2020 Mardi Gras patch (people mentioned it was a server merging. I'm not sure if that's true).
  • Allow people to search for competitive and quickplay games simultaneously, and prioritise competitive games (discussion thread for that suggestion, outlining the issues and how it would work).
  • Improve the queue wait time estimates. They're very inaccurate when not many people are in queue. If I'm the only one in queue, or there's 11 people in queue, I want some indication of whether a game is likely. You can't really estimate that with time, but there are other ways you could tell us. Perhaps show how many players we're waiting on before a match can start. If I'm in queue myself and it's 1/12 and 15 minutes goes by and the number doesn't go up, I know I should probably try again later. If it's 11/12, I know to hang in there because we're close. Being able to play quickplay, deathmatch, and custom games is nice, but if those are empty or I'm not interested in that, if a match isn't happening soon, I'd rather play another game. Respect my time. Give me the information I need to make that decision.
  • add more in-game communication options with the comm. wheel, so if players with a language barrier are in the same game, they can communicate more effectively without voice chat. Especially needed is the ability to say "group up" distinctly from "come over here" as well as "stay there" (e.g. if you are flanking).
  • tell us what's going on in patch notes so we know what's going on. Don't hide changes that significantly impact us, leaving us wondering what happened.
  • the lack of players indicates to me you have a low competitive population in Australia. So, do more marketing in the Asia Pacific region, add more incentive for people to play competitive. Or make the game cross-play with Xbox and PS4. Sirlin Games who make Fantasy Strike managed to get Sony to allow cross-play between Switch and PS4. It made a difference. If they can do it, I don't see why you can't. There are people who play seriously on console--it's not just PC players. If all console players have access to gyro aiming, it'd be fair. There will be skill differences, but it's better than having a small player population.
2 Likes

I’ve experienced the very same playing from Australia. During Ashe’s Mardi Gras, I was finally able to queue for competitive and play at off-peak times, and even queue for DPS alone. It was exciting to feel like I had the game’s features and potential opened up to me, rather than being locked into sparse quick-play matches at certain times of day only. Since the Archives update, though, it’s back to spending more time NOT playing than actually in-game. And that time is spent strictly in one very casual game-mode. Nothing against Quick-Play, but I like to play competitive or arcade modes intermittently, and those other game features are distant dreams at the moment.

2 Likes

Same here, queuing for comp, 2k Tank, 2.5k dps and heals. Queued for all three roles at approx 16.20pm on a Friday, 20 minutes later still waiting.
At this stage I’m feeling like it was a huge mistake moving from PS4 to switch.

Edit: 43 mins and counting.

2 Likes

Update - March 2020:

Fortunately, as of the end of March 2020, I’ve been finding more competitive matches. Seems whatever was done on the back end previously was restored. Thanks. It makes a big difference.


Update, 21 April 2020:

As of mid April 2020 (the time Echo was introduced), Switch Overwatch players in my region are back to unreasonably long competitive mode queue times.

Whatever Blizzard did to increase the player pool–indicated by games being easier to find, and the influx of players with Asian characters in their name–seems to have been reverted.

Let’s call this change the “server player pool reduction”. The game is now worse off in all regards, in all modes.

To prove this and help you understand the problem, I’ve recorded some stats (shared at the end of this post), though I’ll summarise the issues and some requests first.

Blizzard, whatever switch you flicked to prevent us from being able to find competitive and arcade games consistently–please fix this (again) and explain why you constantly keep fixing and un-fixing this, and why none of this is mentioned in the patch notes. It is impacting every game mode, mostly competitive and arcade.

Remember: you’ve already fixed this twice before, and it was great. This is not some random fluctuation–it was a noticeable difference based on a change you guys did on the backend. Just re-enable whatever it is you did before. Thanks.

Benefits from when the server player pool was increased

When playing competitive mode:

  • I could find a competitive game at almost any time, day or night. Finding one during peak times was easy.

  • Queue wait times were typically less than 10 minutes.

  • There was a large diversity of players. Many of the players with Asian characters in their names were quite good and, overall, I found games more enjoyable since games had better players, and the critical mass of less skilled, new players was diluted.

  • I would rarely encounter the same players twice over the span of several matches.

  • I was generally matched with players who were around the same rank with me. Once I reached Platinum rank, I didn’t match with many people who were still completing placement matches. I felt like I was playing with peers near my skill level most of the time.

When playing quickplay:

  • Quick play rightfully became the “non-serious” mode, instead of the only mode you could play to consistently find a game. It was a good place to practice, and a good place for new players to learn together.

  • Fewer good players played quickplay. They still did, but most that I knew–and I know most of them in my region–played competitive most of the time.

Conclusions from playing after you reduced the server player pool

When playing competitive mode as of mid April 2020:

  • In my region (Australia), even during peak play hours, competitive queue times are very long.

  • More people are playing competitive mode than ever before, but the only time you can find a game within 10 minutes (even if you queue for all roles) is during peak play times. Outside of that, expect to wait 10, 20, 30 minutes, or longer, even for support or tank roles, even during times when you expect people would be playing.

  • Because players are unwilling to wait that long, they either exit the game, or play quickplay instead. This means fewer people in the competitive queue, and it starts a cycle of “the wait is too long --> exit the queue.”

  • When I do find competitive games, they’re often not players in the same rank as me. This is likely due to a low player pool cobbling together whoever is available so a game can start.

  • Queue estimates are very inaccurate and unhelpful. It’s disrespectful of our time to say we may wait 2 minutes, when we end up waiting between 10 to 20 minutes, or longer. While you’re in queue, even if the queue estimate updates to show the wait is now longer, players in queue will never know that, or how close they are to finding a game.

  • If I choose the tank and damage roles, even if the role queue wait time for damage is significantly lower than the tank role, it will sometimes make me wait until I’ve found a game in the damage role, instead of finding me a game in whatever role is available first. That is frustrating.

  • I encounter the same players in different matches much more often in a single play session. Likely due to a reduced player pool.

  • Even though we’re at the end of season 21, I often get at least 1 player in matches who haven’t completed their placement games, despite Season 21 nearing its end. This is likely because there’s a low player pool to draw from.

  • This issue is not from people playing Animal Crossing New Horizons. I played Overwatch after that game came out, while the server player pool improvement was in effect, and had no trouble finding competitive games.

  • You’re not hearing about this from Switch players because they don’t post on the forums much, and getting started on the forums where you can actually post a reply is unintuitive and difficult.

This issue has now been fixed once, reverted, fixed again, and now reverted again.

The server player pool reduction affects all modes, but especially competitive and arcade mode. Even quickplay queue times are longer, it’s harder to find a game outside of peak play times, and approx 20% of games cancel due to “waiting for players” to join.

None of this is mentioned in patch notes or the known issues list–even though there are platform specific patch notes.

An article I read about open competitive arcade mode said “Competitive Open Queue is performing well above expectations in all regions across all platforms.” That’s simply untrue for Switch in my region.

https://www.dexerto.com/overwatch/jeff-kaplan-future-of-overwatch-competitive-open-queue-1354567

How reducing the server player pool affects players

1. Serious players are forced to endure long competitive mode queues or play quickplay

In quick play, I’ll often encounter players below level 100, level 50, and sometimes even see level 1 players. (I’m level 370.)

I’m really tired of playing with people who don’t understand the basics of the game modes, maps, their characters, and people who don’t change heroes as the game calls for it.

Most teams don’t know how to avoid damage or play strategically. It’s just a shoot out.

Not all games are terrible–sometimes I encounter players who usually play competitive mode, and they make for great teammates and opponents. But things were better before.

2. Competitive mode is less competitive

It seems there’s a narrow window in the evening of about 1 hour (sometimes less) when competitive games can be found in less than 10 minutes when queuing for all roles.

When I do find competitive games, I often have to hard carry my team. Carrying is normal in competitive mode until you reach the right rank for you, though I find every game is an epic battle–if I screw up too much, it’s all over. I did not experience this prior to the server player pool reduction.

3. Lots of people leave quickplay games

Jeff Kaplan has said the leave penalties for quickplay “[feel] like [they’re] generally in a good spot.”

I invite Jeff to play using a VPN to simulate playing from Australia on Switch. First, have him try to find a competitive game consistently. Queue for all roles. When he tires of being in queue for 80% of the time, have him join quickplay. The only time the play experience improves is if you have the regular, experienced players–who actually play seriously–in a match. They don’t tend to leave matches, though some still do.

How this impacts my play experience

I’m a serious player who has been working to improve since release. I’m ranked gold in Damage and Support, and Platinum in Tank. I’m level 370. I can use every hero with a decent amount of skill.

Having to choose between excessive competitive queue times or quickplay makes me want to stop playing, because most of the time I’m no longer playing Overwatch, an objective-based, competitive team strategy game game. I’m playing a game being used by my team and opponents as a free for all first person shooter. If I want to play a free-for-all FPS, there are better options.

I have low-level (below 100), low reputation players in my game looking around like they don’t know how to play. I also have players who haven’t completed their placement matches show up in Platinum ranked games. It’s very frustrating.

Having a new hero is fun, but if quickplay is the only mode where I can reliably find games and you keep making sweeping changes that impact how we find players without even mentioning it in the patch notes, I’m less likely to stick around or return for Overwatch 2. I’d rather find a competitive game made by a company that makes design decisions that don’t hamstring it’s players.

That sucks. Overwatch is one of my favorite competitive games, and one of the best FPS I’ve played.

Things that don’t make sense to me

I’m not sure why the server player pool expansion was reverted. There was minimal lag (I don’t have super fast internet, nor do I usually use a wired network adapter, so I’d say I’m representative of the broader playerbase). While games had more players who didn’t speak English, language barriers weren’t a huge issue because hardly anyone uses a mic on Switch in our region, anyway, let alone proper shot calling. If people wanted an English-only team, they could form one and still benefit from being able to find games faster. If you didn’t want to hear other languages, you can mute those players.

It boggles my mind that modes like the Arcade competitive open queue are launched (even if only 4 four weeks) and new heroes are launched, when basic usability issues like inability to queue for different modes simultaneously, no console cross play, and inaccurate queue times remain. There are other issues, but those are core issues that affect many people, and whether we can find games at all.

Competitive open queue–and really, any game mode–fragment the player community in areas and platforms with low player populations. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add them, but a higher priority should be to first implement solutions that address player fragmentation so people can find each other instead of sitting in queue, or being relegated to quickplay, which often isn’t enjoyable due to people constantly leaving (often 1 leaver every match during peak times) and team mates or opponents lacking skill.

Proposed solutions

  • Let us know what is going on. Why are you fixing the issue, reverting the fix, fixing it again, and reverting it? Do you plan to leave things as they are, or are you planning on expanding the player pool again? Other players got a response, apology, and hot-fix from the development team (from Jeff Kaplan, no less) for a slight change to the game that affected a small amount of players using a single character. Another group of players got a response about a fix to play of the game. https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/overwatch/t/aggregating-all-potgs-always-go-to-healers-bug-reports/480195/9 Can we at least get a response about an issue that is affecting all online game modes and the entire player population of one platform in at least one country? https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/overwatch/t/genji-is-broken/487369/2

  • If there was a issue that caused you to revert the server player pool expansion such that it can’t happen all the time, at least allow players to be matched with the larger, non-English-speaking player pool if a match with more local, English-speaking players can’t be found after waiting in queue for 5 minutes (perhaps 10 for damage role). Or tell us why you needed to revert it, and let us know if it’s an issue you’re working on.

  • When you make high-impact changes like these, add them to the patch notes or a new update in-game. You mention obscure bugs in patch notes that likely affect a small amount of the player population, though something that likely affects all the Switch players in Australia and I suspect New Zealand and perhaps surrounding areas, doesn’t get a mention. I’m not exaggerating–this affects people who quickplay, arcade, as well as competitive mode. Check your stats–I’m sure they’ll confirm it.

Additionally, quoted from the first post in this thread (I’ll truncate them for brevity):

You will probably say low player populations aren’t your fault, but until you implement things like simultaneous queuing https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/overwatch/t/suggestion-let-players-queue-for-multiple-modes-simultaneously/474262/, console cross-platform (an obscure indie game has it–why doesn’t Overwatch?), accurate queue times, and ways to determine how close you are to having a full team while waiting in queue so one knows if they’re wasting their time or not, the way your game is designed is part of the issue.

Competitive queue wait time stats

Note:

  • Unless stated otherwise, the mode played is competitive and estimated wait time shown for the roles was >10 minutes.

  • All data is from queuing solo, not with a group.

  • My rank at the time of queuing: Platinum in Tank, Gold in Damage and Support.

Wednesday, 15th April 2020

No data recorded, but I was waiting 10, 20, or 30 minutes in the competitive queue, on separate occasions, and found no game. I played quickplay instead.

Several players I know complained to me, “Blizzard changed the servers again” and that they also couldn’t find competitive games.

Thursday, 16th April 2020

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
8:24 PM All roles Tank <2 minutes 7 minutes Match found Support
8:40 PM Didn’t record Didn’t record 10 minutes Match found Didn’t record
9 PM Damage Didn’t record 10 minutes Match found Damage
10:45 PM Tank, Support Didn’t record 35 minutes No match found N/A
2 AM All roles Tank, Support, <2 minutes 50 minutes No match found N/A

Friday, 17th April 2020

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
5:40 PM All roles Didn’t record 17 minutes Match found Support
6:23 PM Tank, Damage 8 minutes Match cancelled (someone left) Tank
6:33 PM Tank, Damage Didn’t record 3 minutes Match found Didn’t record
6:45 PM All roles Didn’t record 5 minutes Match found Support
7:28 PM Tank, Damage Didn’t record 22 minutes Match found Damage
8:11 PM Tank, Damage Tank, Damage <2 minutes 24 minutes Match found Tank
10 PM All roles Support <2 minutes 17 minutes Match found Support
10:26 PM All roles Didn’t record 59 minutes Match found Tank
11:41 PM All roles Tank, Support <2 minutes 55 minutes No match found N/A

For comparison, here are some quick play stats from the same play session:

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
12:41 AM (18th April) Damage, Support Didn’t record 3 minutes Match found Support
12:54 AM (18th April) All roles Damage, Support <2 minutes 1 minute Match found Support
1:07 AM (18th April) All roles Tank, Support <2 minutes under 1 minute Match found Tank
1:14 AM Damage, Support Tank, Support <2 minutes 19 minutes Match found Support

It’s not that there aren’t players, nor is it that there aren’t players who want to play competitive mode. They just don’t want to wait long times in queues–they want to play.

Also, while quickplay games are readily available, they are rarely satisfying, filled with players who play the game like it’s a free-for-all FPS and people often leave the game if their team is losing–sometimes more than one person per match.

Saturday 18th April 2020

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
7:50 PM Tank Tank <2 minutes 10 minutes No match found
8 PM All roles Didn’t record 12 minutes No match found

I’m starting to play less due to the server player pool reduction. I tired of playing with low skill players.

I’d love to be able to play arcade games. Nobody really plays those because they don’t expect to find teams.

Sunday, 19th April 2020

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
8:50 AM All roles Tank, Damage <2 minutes 14 minutes No match found
11:25 PM All roles Not recorded 3 minutes No match found

I was in queue for 3 minutes. I joined Deathmatch, since that’s usually a good indication of how many people are in queue. There were two other players. One had 42 kills. I bet they were in that queue for a long time. Sick of waiting in queues, I played quickmatch.

Monday, 20th April 2020

Checked the queue estimates for competitive at 11:50 PM.

All roles were >10 minutes. I didn’t bother.

Tuesday, 21st April 2020

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
2:30 PM All roles Didn’t record 25 minutes Game found Tank
6:20 PM All roles All roles <2 minutes 7 minutes Game found Tank
6:45 PM (competitive open queue arcade) N/A N/A 9 minutes No game found N/A

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020

At some point, something seemed to change on the backend, making it easier to find matches.

I think players from my region were being matched with American players. I could tell from voice chat, and also by how certain ranks actually had good players, instead of the usual terrible players that same rank has in my region.

People being at home due to COVID-19 probably also helped.

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
2:45 PM All roles Didn’t record 1 minutes Game found Tank
2:45 PM All roles Didn’t record 1 minutes Game found Support
3:56 PM All roles Didn’t record 8 minutes Match cancelled (someone left) Support
4:05 PM All roles Didn’t record 1 minutes Game found Support
6:30 PM All roles Didn’t record 2 minutes Game found Damage
6:42 PM Tank Tank <2 minutes 12 minutes Game found Tank
7:02 PM All roles Tank <2 minutes, Support <5 minutes 3 minutes Game found Support
7:27 PM All roles Tank <2 minutes 5 minutes Game found Tank

Thursday, 23rd April 2020

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
6:20 PM All roles Tank <2 minutes 4 minutes Game found Support
6:35 PM All roles Tank <2 minutes 6 minutes Game found Support
6:51 PM All roles Tank <2 minutes 10 minutes Game found Support
7:11 PM All roles Didn’t record 1 minutes Game found Tank
7:27 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 3 minutes Game found Support

Friday, 24th April 2020

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
4:27 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 1 minutes Game found Support
4:48 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 1 minutes Game found Tank
4:51 PM Tank, Support Support <3 minutes 16 minutes Game found Support
5:24 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 4 minutes Game found Support
5:44 PM All roles Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 3 minutes Game found Support
5:56 PM Tank, Damage Tank <8 minutes, Damage, Support >10 minutes 2 minutes Game found Tank

Sunday, 26th April 2020

I notice the times when I find games the fastest is when I’m matched up with players who have Asian characters in their name. The time it takes to find games in the tank and support queue seems to be less than 5 minutes, though there are occasional long waits.

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
5 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 1 minutes Game found Tank
5:15 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 1 minutes Game found Tank
5:38 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 1 minutes Game found Tank
5:57 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 23 minutes Game found Tank

Monday, 27th April 2020

Notice how bad the queue estimates are?

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
9:36 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 4 minutes Game found Support
9:56 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 4 minutes Game found Tank
10:18 PM Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 10 minutes No game found NA
10:40 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes 6 minutes Game found Tank
11:01 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 23 minutes Game found Tank

Tuesday, 28th April 2020

Queue entered at Roles queued for Role estimates Time in queue Result Role assigned to
12:19 PM Tank, Support Tank <2 minutes, Support <2 minutes 2 minutes Game found Support

Update, 14th May 2020

I stopped recording stats because competitive games were easier to find due to back-end changes. I was primarily matching with American players, and other players with English names.

However, over the last few weeks wait times have gone up for tank and support, even during peak times (6pm to 12 midnight), and the matchmaking is really bad.

E.g. In platinum and gold, I’ll frequently get matched with players who haven’t completed their qualifying rounds, players who are below level 100 or 200 and at least one or two ranks below my rank, and players who generally are unskilled.

I’m a level 400 player. Last season I placed Platinum in Damage and Tank, Gold in Support. This season I placed Platinum in Tank, and Gold in Support. Yet to complete Damage qualifier rounds–queue times are too bad.

The matchmaking and queue times have never been as good as the first time Blizzard fixed this issue, when we were being matched with players with Asian characters in their name. I miss those times. I’m not sure why being matched with American players is what it’s been changed to–I find American players to be more abusive than any players I’ve played with, and they’re less skilled than the Asian players.

Because I can’t post anymore in this thread until someone else does, I made a new thread.

Has it improved for you?

1 Like